Hosted B2B Integration Projects

Hosted software solutions sometimes referred to as Software as a Service or On Demand solutions are becoming more prevalent in B2B Integration solutions. First witnessed by companies such as Salesforce.com (Hosted Customer Relationship Management and Sales Force Automation) and Google (Hosted Office Applications), hosted applications are changing the way business software is delivered.

Rather than customers paying an upfront license cost, companies pay for the solution as they use it. The application or software are hosted in a third party data center and the potential impact on internal IT resources is lower. This delivery model has been witnessed in B2B Integration for a number of years with many integration service providers delivering B2B Integration On Demand.

Hosted B2B Integration can mean zero upfront expenditure on software licenses or additional hardware. Essentially, a company chooses to outsource or partner with a third party service provider to run and manage their B2B integration projects. Typically, the hosted service provider will integrate directly to back office applications or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, taking data feeds from those applications and converting them in real time to the formats requested by trading partner. The profile of rules or visibility services are provided online through a portal system, with the business user often connecting direct via a browser to access the B2B Integration solution. In this model configuration changes and the management of diverse trading partners is typically handled by the trusted third party.

Economically this solution offers a one to many or many to many model for integration, lowering the total cost of ownership. This solution can however present it’s own challenges in control – the service levels of the third party must be considered, along with disaster recovery, redundancy and solution availability. For companies with only a few trading partners outsourcing the B2B Integration initiatives may not prove cost efficient.

Advantages

  • Lower cost of ownership
  • Time to realise return
  • Focus resources on critical IT projects

Challenges

  • Lack of control in managing change requests
  • Hard to budget – per click pricing vs. fixed upfront investment
  • Quality of Service Provider is key